Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Rainy and cold

The alarm went off early, so I was out by 5 AM for the run.

I’ve been really lax about marketing, because I’ve concentrated so much on fiction and scripts over the past few months, but now that the theatre commissions are winding down (at least until the next round of meetings/commissions), I need to get back on the stick. The job listings have sucked the last few months — the content mills are pulling down a lot of the prices, and I’m not going to write a press release (for years my bread-and-butter) for one-fifth of my normal rate.

I looked at Media Bistro — LOTS of jobs, well over 1000, legitimate jobs at legitimate rates, but very few that interest me. One did, it’s a company I’ve looked at for awhile and something opened up I could definitely do, but the amount of invasive paperwork and “investigative rights” you’re supposed to sign over to even apply for the job pissed me off, and I decided not to. I don’t do drugs, but I’m still not going to pee into a cup on demand, nor am I going to sign paper work to let you delve into my personal life. My personal life’s not particularly interesting or salacious, but IT’S MINE, and it has nothing to do with providing copywriting for your frigging company. I could understand if it was some national-security type job for a government or research or medical or defense firm where people’s lives were on the line, but copywriting for this type of company? Give me a break. And, knowing what I do about this particular organization, at least 70% of the people administering the tests are cokeheads, so I don’t think so. Hypocrites. There was another organization that looks really interesting (and the application process less invasive), but the job offered isn’t really what I want. However, I’m going to do some research and send them a proposal creating the freelance position I want, and we’ll see.

The NYFA job search board has a lot of jobs listed — again, they’re good, solid, legitimate jobs, many with benefits, but not what I’m looking for, too much full-time; but I can pull information and do direct mail pitches. If I can get a mailing out by early June, that would be great. I’ve built an interesting prospect list over the past few months, but it doesn’t do anyone any good if it’s just sitting in a folder.

Got some work done on SETTLING THE SCORE. When I’m done with this sequence, some of these scenes will be darkly funny. The trick is to give the actors and director enough solid, specific text WITHOUT STAGE DIRECTIONS so they can explore and have fun and bring their uniqueness to the material, and yet make it precise enough so the layers of meaning are clear without everything being overly explained.

For some reason, I got very nauseous yesterday. It came and went all day. I have no idea why. I managed to get the grocery shopping done, and took a nap, but it wasn’t the productive day for which I hoped.

Cleaned a bunch of stuff. Literally wiped off all the papers that piled on top of my desk and stuck them in a box. I’m going to sort & file from that box for 15-30 minutes per day to get it all handled. I now have a clean desk, which, to Violet, means a place to perch and watch me while I work. I still have the old behemoth PC because I’m not done transferring the disks — yes, it’s taken over a year and I’m still not done — but there’s a lot more room to work. It’s been a long time since I had a clean desk. It’s a little intimidating, but hopefully, will lead to more productive worktime. Definitely better feng shui. I need to look up in my favorite feng shui book, MOVE YOUR STUFF, CHANGE YOUR LIFE, how to rearrange the desk.

“Organizers” say you “can’t” have “stuff” on the desk” — well, i can’t work without my “stuff”. It’s my creative fuel. I have my gargoyle and my dragon and my crystals and my Ganesh and other items that have personal creative meaning for me, along wiht the pens and the computer and the Rolodex and whatever I’m working on at the moment. Files are nearby, but not on the desk, and books are stacked in crates beside the desk by project, and office supplies in a bookcase against the wall beside the desk. Photos relevant to various projects are on corkboards, and I put the one I need up on top of the office supply bookcase where I can see it while I work. Works for me, and that’s what matters, right? I’ve yet to meet an “organizer” whose systems had any relevance to my life and work. Julie Morgenstern’s books come the closest, but then, she used to work in theatre, so she gets it.

Still haven’t heard back from the vet and am getting frustrated. I’m trying to hold Elsa steady, but we need to make decisions to move forward. If he needs to see her again (and wants me to dump more money at the facility) TELL me to make an appointment. Don’t just not get back to me.

Today is a day for dealing with scumbag landlords who are coming in to “make repairs”, but, in reality, coming in to snoop to see how they can continue to make lives miserable. Will also get on their case about the heat.

LOST just annoyed me yesterday, and that’s all I have to say about it. At this point in the story, I don’t care to learn backstory of anyone we’ve haven’t lived with a lot unless it takes 3 (short) scenes or less. Even if I did go to college with one of those guys. Again, no surprises, just the order in which they’re revealing stuff, and the length of time they’re taking to jerk the audience around.

I am looking forward to the day being over.

Hey, whaddaya know? 6:14 AM and the heaters are clanking. What do you figure, three, four minutes of heat this morning before they turn it off again?

Devon

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010
Waning Moon
Pluto Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Cloudy and warm

I’ve gotten some really nice emails/comments about both yesterday’s Jenny Storm interview and the Anita Blake essay. Thank you! I learned a lot writing both, and hope I can apply that moving forward. Talk about work in two very different arenas, right? But that’s what makes writing such fun. I can switch between a rather innocent piece for middle grade readers and an examination of using sex as a character-building device.

I’m going over the first six chapters of POWER OF WORDS and sending them to Trusted Readers. Normally, I wouldn’t send first draft pages – I usually send out about third draft — but I need to know specifics about what does and doesn’t work in certain elements here in order to focus on the next bit. The next bit, the section dealing with rehearsals, has to be massively rewritten. A lot of that is because of changes I made in this section, dealing with the audition process.

Relationships in this industry tend to be transient, not because the people are shallow, but because, when you spend 18 hours a day for months working on a creative process, creating as a group, there’s a special bond and intensity that no one outside of that specific project shares or understands. The project ends, as it must, you scatter to other projects, and it starts again. Some people you never see again, and that’s okay; some you miss a lot, but lose touch with. Some strong friendships are formed, and you keep in touch regularly wherever you go. Some people you don’t really keep in touch with, but if you land on another project again or even run into each other in the street, the warmth is there instantly and you pick up the conversation right where you left off. It’s very different than working in any other industry. People truly do fall in love during a project — it just is often not a “forever” type of love portrayed in romance novels. That doesn’t make it any less real or less intense, but it’s a different kind of love than most people see as the traditional, settle down forever love. It takes a lot of life experience, self-knowledge, and self-esteem not to blur the line between the creative process and one’s life. And there are all kinds of strong emotional bonds created on a production that have nothing to do with affairs or romance. Some do, of course, but plenty don’t. You’re dependent on each other for your creative and emotional lives. And since each project is sooo different and each experience so different, only those on a particular project can ever really understand the experience. Even when it’s bad, there’s a bond. It’s much closer to the type of bond soldiers share in the field than people going to an office. The threat of physical death rarely exists on a production (unless the director and producers are totally irresponsible, hence the strong safety regulations enforced by unions), but the threat of emotional devastation is always there. Some directors feel they get better work out of actors if they are emotionally or verbally abusive. I think that’s a crock, myself, but that’s the way some people work. Or, you can pour your heart and soul into a project, but sometimes it still doesn’t work No one WANTS to make a bad film, but sometimes the elements just don’t come together, for a variety of reasons. That’s devastating, not just because it can make it harder to get hired again, but because you gave your all and it failed. Usually, it’s because the original vision was diluted by a bunch of executives who shouldn’t be making creative decisions, but are trying to justify their salaries. The more diluted the vision, the more of a mess the project. Or, if you cast because you want a name instead of getting someone who’s not only right for the role but enthusiastic, you can run into problems. You want someone low-key, with a strong work ethic, who treats people well and can retain a sense of humor in difficult situations. Theatre-trained people tend to fit that bill better, because it takes a lot of stamina, professionalism, and humor to do eight shows a week indefinitely. It’s one reason, when I have a say in the casting process of my own work, I am adamant that there’s a good theatre resume. Most big name actors who are known for their acting rather than their lives have solid theatre credentials, and come back to Broadway when they can (Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, Hugh Jackman, etc.).

It’s an interesting challenge to try to present the complexity of relationships on a production. I did a bit of that in REAL, although the circumstances of the production and the primary relationship in that book were very different. There are some similarities — the creative team has enough clout to tell many an exec to go f–um, go away! 😉

I have to say something about Tuesday’s episode of LOST. Yes, it was sad and very well-acted, but really, how could anyone be surprised by this? Look at the way they’ve jerked around the audience for six years. Again, much as I like the scene work and the actors, I sit there and shake my head and say, “Of course they chose that.” The creators never regained my trust after they broke it several years ago. I think they created a wonderful phenomena, and the amount of creative control they were granted shows how good work can happen when you leave the creative team alone to fulfill their vision and keep executives from diluting it as mentioned above. I wish networks would learn from this, but instead, they try to copy the show, instead of developing other creative teams’ unique potentials. Yes, I’m watching this final season. And I have yet to be surprised. They moved around the order of a few things I expected, but nothing, so far, has surprised me. I appreciate the talent and the vision that goes into the piece, and I think it will remain as a wonderful example of creation, even when I don’t find it personally fulfilling overall. I’ve certainly learned a lot from it. I hope the people from the show don’t keep getting hired in the hopes of recreating it; it would be nice to let them fulfill new visions, and not compare everything they do to LOST. Once it’s done, let it be what it is and appreciate it as an entity unto itself, because that’s what it deserves. However I feel about certain elements of it, it’s always been a top quality production.

A bit of work on the urban fantasy this morning, then another pass at POWER OF WORDS so I can get those chapters out (along with a list of very specific questions). Some of the typos I’ve caught are screamingly funny and entirely change the context of the chapter they’re in. Then, it’s tackling the ANGEL HUNT revision. I think I’ve finally figured out how to wrestle what I need from chapters 12 & 13. I’m going to combine them, strip them, and then rebuild them. It’s a true “re-envisioning” of this section, not just fixing a few typos. This book has made such a huge transformation since its original life as a serial, and I’m so passionate about it. It’s the best, riskiest, most challenging thing I’ve ever written.

I also need to get back to the BEHIND THE MAN adaptation. So I’ve got a busy day.

We’re adjusted Elsa’s medication to wean her off the steroid, and she’s in that delicate transitional stage, where one minute she’s better and then she’s not.

Devon

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday, March 6, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Sunny (finally) and mild)

So, today is the last day I get ABC-TV. ABC and Cablevision are acting like two year olds, and ABC is pulling the plug on Cablevision customers. I don’t get to see the Oscars — ABC timed it purposely for this. The only show I’m sorry to miss is CASTLE. LOST is back to jerking around the audience again, I know how it’s going to end, and I just don’t care any more. I don’t watch that much TV anyway, so I’ll just watch other channels. I’m not willing to pay higher cable fees because ABC-Disney packed their toys and went home. Having worked on an ABC soap, back when I was first in the union, they nickel and dime and pay less than the other networks to their employees anyway. I mean, on an ABC soap, I earned the same for an 8-hour call what I earned on Broadway for a 4-hour call. The CBS soap paid much better, and so did the scripted NBC dramas. On the latter, I could earn in one day what I earned on Broadway in a week. Granted, it was a Very Long 16+ hour day and I was a babbling idiot by the end of it, but it paid well enough to be worth it.

Got some new Apps for the iPod: YOGA JOURNAL has an app with 15 classes, and I also got a Tibetan singing bowl app that’s really cool. Gives me more to play with when I travel.

The same student who disregarded earlier exercise specifications did the same in a subsequent exercise, and also did not rework the exercise I refused. And then argued with me when I called her on it. And I’m talking simple requirements, like number of characters required for the scene. That’s not misunderstanding the guidelines, that’s ignoring them. Granted, revised exercises have been set up as optional, but when I say what you’re submitted doesn’t fit the specifications, common sense dictates that you fix it before doing the exact same thing in another exercise. It reinforces my belief that previously written scenes are being posted instead of fresh material. So, for the next workshop, I’ll have to add more specifics in the welcome stating if I reject an exercise as not fitting the guidelines, it must be redone before moving on.

On the flip side, another student asked if she could skip an exercise, because she never intended to write anything like it. I said no, I wanted her to try it. She did, and, to her surprise, did a good job. Even if she chooses never to work in that genre, she at least knows she has the tools so she can, and if it leaks into anything else she tries, again, she’s developed a skill set.

I finally caught up on the humor exercises. I’m tired and cranky, and not feeling funny or even wry, but I think I got the basics. It was good to push myself. I’ve got the foundation for a couple of decent pieces that might turn into something down the road. The teacher’s given me great feedback, so I think, after a little more work, I can start sending some of them out into the world.

I finished the material for Confidential Job #1. I’m polishing it today, then sending it out, then starting on the next assignment for them. It’s got to go out before I leave Wednesday (it’s due Wednesday). I’d like to get it out on Monday, so I can go to the Greenwich LIbrary to invoice them through IE (they only accept invoices via IE). I’d like to get a few queries and submissions out this weekend, too.

So, today’s about Confidential Job #1 and getting back to MRS. TILLER. I’d like to write an act per day today, tomorrow, and Monday, then write the next play next week, then revise them and get them off to my producer by the 15th. Then I’ll go back to BLOOD SOUP and the three-hander and get them out in early April, with the sequel to TILL DEATH DO THEY PART out in May.

Of course, VALIDATION, the serious play, is tugging at me, so I’ll work on that in and around the others. That’s going to be shopped to an entirely different producer.

Seriously, if this headache doesn’t stop soon, I’ll have to cut off my own head just to feel better.

Back to the page.

Devon

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Waning Moon
Mars Retrograde
Snowy and cold

We had about four inches of snow overnight. The roads look pretty clear, so I think I can hold on to my original intent to go to Greenwich Library after lunch to do some research.

Linkage stuff to share: My SDR blog is up “The Intersection of Life and Fiction.” The new issue of THE SCRUFFY DOG REVIEW is out, with my Literary Athlete column on workshops. Kim Smith kindly awarded me a “Prolific Blogger” award last week, and I haven’t had the chance to pay it forward, although I plan to in the next few days.

Acupuncture was great yesterday, and I felt so much better once I was done. Driving to and from Long Island wasn’t all that bad, either.

The writing went very well, so that was a relief. Switching between the long WIP I’ve been working on (tentatively titled POWER OF WORDS) and the dark piece (REDEMPTION KILL) works because they’re very different, and yet, they feed off each other in a weird way. Hey, I’m not going to argue, I’m just going to roll with it.

Two very interesting and different conversations yesterday re: scriptwriting jobs for which I’d pitched. The first really liked my samples, but they need someone local (in LA) to be on-site doing topical revisions — it’s the monologue for a small, daily show. They hired someone to fit that, but wanted to talk to me anyway about future projects. They’re in negotiations for a development deal for some scripted web projects, and wanted to know if they could keep me on file and contact me if and when they had funding for something like that. That project could be done mostly remotely, but, if and when they needed me present, they’d also have the funds to bring me out west as needed, whereas this project doesn’t have the budget. Everything’s an “if”, but they came across as having integrity, and should the opportunity come up, I think we’d work together well. If the opportunity doesn’t come up, at least we had a good talk! 😉

The second conversation was more typical. They like the samples, but wanted me to write a project-specific script for them to “help them make their decision.” Without pay. I refused. I said I’d write a partial at a specially-negotiated rate, but I don’t do free project-specific samples. I know that road — the “employer” sends out different “samples” to different individuals, tells everyone they’ve hired someone else and gets the whole project for free, not paying anyone. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. They also said that, although, in the ad, they’d listed a per-script rate (which I found acceptable but not brilliant), they’d decided that was the rate they were paying for ALL the scripts, not just one. I said no, thank you. These are NOT people I’d want to work with in the future.

So, I watched the premiere of LOST’s final season. I didn’t watch the narrated pre-show explanation — I stand by my belief that if you have to keep explaining things, you’re not telling the story well. I enjoyed seeing old, familiar faces from the first season, the season I liked. I enjoyed the scenes from “the plane didn’t crash” section. I see where they’re going with the rest of it, and I’m just sighing and shaking my head. As I’ve said frequently when I’ve dipped into it once I stopped watching regularly, I enjoy the scene work, but not the overall arc, and I don’t trust the creators to lead me on a fulfilling journey. I’m glad the show gets the support it does, it is truly innovative on so many levels, and I’m glad so many people are fanatically loyal to it — that helps everyone creatively, the show’s creators, the writers, the actors — and, once the knock-offs run out of steam, will hopefully open the door to more innovation. But LOST lost me at the top of Season 3 and never won me back. It’s really well done, and, in spite of it, I feel like they’re over-manipulating the audience. To me, that’s a turn-off. I’ll probably watch it here and there over the coming weeks, and I want to see the series finale to see if my speculations are correct. But I’m certainly not planning my week around it.

Imbolc ritual was lovely, honoring the stirring of what is to come.

Good first writing session this morning. The word count is low, but I’m writing a scene that’s both physically and emotionally complex and I’d rather take my time with it than rush through it. It’s pivotal to the rest of the book, so I’d rather get it mostly right (there’s always room for improvements during revision) than rush through it, blow it, and then not have built a strong foundation for the rest of the piece.

Back to the page for a bit, and then I’m headed off to the library.

Devon

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009
Waning Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Sunny and cold

Promised links pertaining to current events:
Several people wanted to know where they could get some unvarnished content on the stimulus bill. It’s up at the Government Printing Office:

http://www.gpo.gov

with the direct link to the text of the bill here:

http://fdsys.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr1ENR/pdf/BILLS-111hr1ENR.pdf

Yes, I will be reading it in its entirety. If there’s something worth saying about it here, I will. It’ll take awhile, it’s long, but, reading a few pages at a time, I will read it in its entirety, because only then do I have the information to responsibly comment on it. Of course, one of the bonehead representatives claimed it was “over 1100 pages” and that “nobody read it”. Um, then, why was ANYONE voting on it? We pay these people enough so that they can sit down and read the frigging legislation before voting, not spread lies from the sound bytes put together on a partisan level. And you know what? The people I pay to represent me actually DID read the plan before voting. Someone had to read it because someone had to write it and argue about it. It’s only 407 pages in the PDF format (only! Ha!), but the print is pretty tiny, so I suggest viewing it at 125%. I skimmed the first few pages, because I’d heard complaints that it was difficult to understand. I know five year olds who could read and comprehend the first couple of pages. But, of course, you can’t understand something you haven’t read.

You can also track the budget here:

http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/index.html

and if you want to track how the specific stimulus money is being spent and compare it to what’s laid out in the bill, so you can let your representatives and senators know what you agree and disagree with, so that they can actually represent you, the link is here:

http://www.recovery.gov/

And if you want to track how your representatives vote, to make sure they aren’t doing one thing in Congress and coming home to spread yet more mis-information, you can go to the website for Congress and find records of the roll call votes in each house. Not every vote is a roll call vote; quite a few are by voice. But on major issues, someone usually demands a roll call vote so that it’s a matter of public record where each person stands and how they voted.

http://www.congress.org

The media’s giving me a headache about it all, no matter what side they’re spinning, and I’d rather use these resources to get my own information and make my own decisions. And then make my views known to the people who represent me. I’m not allowing the government to destroy everything I spent my life building, the way they tried over the past eight years.

Life, writing, etc.:
When is an apology not an apology? When it’s an editorial in the NY POST. What a joke. If you say you’re going to stand behind something, even against opposition, then do it. Don’t pretend you’re maybe sorta apologizing for something for which you aren’t in the least sorry. I have to say, I was curious about the whole protest-at-the-Post thing. The Post is a TABLOID, not in just the shape the newsprint they use, but in content. Controversy is their crack. If people want to send the POST a message, not buying the POST sends a much stronger one.

I have to say I’m glad that those NYU students have locked themselves into the cafeteria as a protest about – well, heck, whatever it is that they’re protesting. The news has been rather vague. It’s nice to see some social activism happening again, but they need to communicate their position clearly, and somehow, I don’t think those You Tube videos are necessarily going to do it. NYU is, of course, handling it with its usual lumbering lack of anything resembling grace or intelligence. I had some great times at NYU, I had some great teachers (some of whom I’m still in contact with 20 years later). But the administration is just eye-rollingly out of touch with reality, and has been as long as I’ve known the institution.

Too bad more people aren’t protesting, especially against the banks.

Just an aside on the Government Printing Office. I first heard about them in elementary school, when we took a trip to the United Nations (one could still listen in at the General Assembly sessions then, dialing the headphones to all the different languages), and I saw the stacks and stacks of publications on various topics. I used to use them to write papers throughout elementary and high school – topics like NASA, aviation, geography, agriculture, etc., etc. So, if you have kids who have to write reports, it’s a pretty wonderful resource. And, of course, for writers, it’s a great resource. The publications can point you towards hundreds of primary sources for your work.

I felt about as creative as wilted lettuce yesterday. I managed to get some work done on the revision of ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, incorporating the last few days’ research into the piece. Now, I’m struggling with inconsistent points of view. Odd numbered chapters need to be from Morag’s POV, even from Simon’s. But I’m finding a lot of inconsistencies, and I have to fix them. Otherwise, I’m jumping around heads too much, and it doesn’t work. I can also see where each day’s work stopped, because there’s a lot of choppiness in the first draft. It’s an excellent learning experience to break it apart and make it work, but it’s much more complex than I originally thought.

Finished the assignment for Confidential Job #1. Will polish the write up and send it off this morning.

Did some research for the Billy Root story (yes, there are times where I have to research). I still haven’t quite figured out how to bridge the two sections of the book, but I think, in the next couple of scenes, I can put in a few things that seem like fleshing out the time and place, but are really setting up the second half of the book.

Couldn’t get the knot out of my shoulder. Weight training last night helped – I had a great work out session of weight training and then yoga. But I would up taking a couple of valerian root capsules and using a heating pad. That helped a lot, but it’s still not completely released, and it’s affecting my neck and head.

New Jersey had three earthquakes in the past three weeks, and now has reports of red lights dancing in the sky that no one can figure out.

I got to watch BURN NOTICE last night. I enjoy that show so much – it’s clever and I love the cast, although I wish they’d change up the weekly structure a bit. I’m starting to get ahead of it, and can predict what will happen by looking at the clock. I’m learning a lot about script structure, though.

LOST just makes me roll my eyes. I’ve tried to watch the new season, because I like the actors and their scene work, in spite of feeling that the creators mess with the audience just to mess with them. I keep saying, “oh, no, they’re NOT going down that road, they’re just NOT” and then they do. I’m ahead of it all the time. They’re supposed to surprise me and they don’t. I stopped watching the show because I felt the creators were messing with the audience and because, of the three possible roads they could have chosen at the end of whatever season it was (I think it was Season 2), they chose the one I disliked the most strongly. I really like the cast, I really like the individual scenes, but overall, the show just isn’t working for me. I realize I’m in the minority, and I’m glad so many people love it (hey, it’s keeping a couple of hundred people employed in this economy, which is a good thing), but I want to be surprised and engaged in the overall piece, not just because I like the actors, and I’m not.

Today’s agenda includes: Errands , bills to pay, groceries to buy, laundry to do, some time spent outside. So I better have a really, really, REALLY productive early morning stint, because that’s my only shot at the computer all day.

Hope you all have a great weekend. And, if you haven’t stopped by The Urban Muse to read my article and comment, please do. Last time I checked, no one left a comment, and I’m feeling abandoned. 😉

Devon

Billy Root story – 19,348 words out of est. 60,000

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
19 / 60
(31.7%)